Restaurant review: Al-Tubasee Street food truck

G.A. Benton, Columbus Alive

"I didn't even like hummus before - now I can't get enough of it. I guess it makes a big difference when it's made by someone who knows what they're doing," Mike Mutters said while standing in line behind me at the Al-Tubasee Street food truck parked by the Sunoco station at Hudson and High.

Mutters - who manages nearby Dirty Dungarees - is one of a growing pack of locals and Al-Tubasee regulars who can't get enough of the month-old truck that serves terrific, scratch-made Middle Eastern and Greek fare at inexpensive prices. Bonus: Al-Tubasee is a late-night-friendly operation (often closing between 1 and 2:30 a.m.), so its restaurant-quality food can help sober your wobbly ass up after you've hit a tavern or three.

The "someone who knows what they're doing" is friendly Yaser Al-Mubaslat. Al-Mubaslat told me he'd been a chef "all his life," was part of the original Firdous Cafe team when the groundbreaking restaurant was on south campus and Middle Eastern fare was still rare in Columbus, and that he named this truck for his hometown in Palestine. So, yeah, the guy knows what he's doing.

The way he does his excellent hummus ($5) is super-smooth and creamy. The tahini-rich dip gets nuance and balance from a bright accent of lemon and sprinkles of smoked paprika.

Al-Tubasee's falafel ($3) are also distinct and delicious. They arrive crisp, impressively ungreasy, redolent of fennel seed and tickled by a little chili flake. They're especially scrumptious when dunked into that uncommonly comforting hummus.

If you wanna stuff a big old sloppy sandwich into your face - and you do, whether tipsy or not - the lamb and chicken souvlakia are good ways to go. Both star juicy and tender meat: perfectly peppery chicken ($6.50) or perfectly fatty lamb ($7). The flavorful lumps come in a puffy, thick and griddle-toasted pita loaf garnished with sauteed onions, fresh leaf lettuce, tomatoes plus rich, tangy and cuts-above tzatziki sauce. If you like it hot, opt for the fiery pickled cherry pepper add-on.

Might as well get fries with that ($2.50), because they're thin, crisp, nicely seasoned and ungreasy. Ending on a sweet note, the flaky and nutty baklava ($2.50) is, like everything I tried, cheaper and of better quality than what you get from many sit-down eateries.

Al-Tubasee Street

2570 N. High St., Old North

614-556-5021

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